Hooker was already being hailed as a living legend in the '60s, but by the time of this 1986 release he was a larger-than-life figure, his iconic stature unquestioned. From his earliest collaborations with Canned Heat and on through the '70s and '80s, the rock world never got tired of trying to endear Hooker to a crossover audience. JEALOUS is an attempt to adapt Hooker's lonesome blues to full-band arrangements. Unlike his band recordings of the '50s, though, there's a decided rock edge to his accompaniment here, providing a sharp contrast to the down-home, earthy sound of Hooker's voice and guitar. Organ, electric guitar, and a forceful rhythm section baked in reverb back Hooker on JEALOUS. Instead of overpowering Hooker, though, these new arrangements place the bluesman on a sonic pedestal, from which he sounds like the voice of God dispensing wisdom through the blues.
This four-disc box from London's JSP Records collects an astounding 100 songs recorded by John Lee Hooker in Detroit from the years 1948 to 1952, including his first two sides ever, the signature tunes "Boogie Chillen" and "Sally Mae." Most of the tracks here are done solo, with Hooker's ever-present foot-stomping, although a few feature other musicians on loose-limbed blues boogies. Since Hooker never significantly altered his style during his long career, these first recordings set the stage for all that came after, and he arguably never sounded fresher or better. Four discs worth of this throwback Mississippi bluesman will be severe overkill for casual listeners, but diehard Hooker fans will find this box set absolutely essential.
One of his finest '90s recordings, Chill Out balances the guitar-glitz of Carlos Santana's guest shot on the karmic title cut with a handful of profoundly deep Hooker solo performances. Among those are new versions of his standards "Tupelo" and "Annie Mae," and the soulful "If You've Never Been in Love," where expert slide-man Roy Rogers provides subtle accompaniment to Hooker's spontaneous storytelling. The band numbers that bookend the album are weak, relying on Hooker's strong vocal presence to overcome sketchy writing. Van Morrison, pianist Charles Brown, and M.G.'s leader Booker T. Jones also lend a hand. But Hooker doesn't need anybody's help to get to the passionate heart of his blues. One last note: Anton Corbijn's CD-booklet photographs of ol' Johnny Lee are terrific.
Produced by Hooker's slide guitarist Roy Rogers–who knows what's right for him–this is Hooker's best 1990s effort. Rogers guides him through arrangements that recapture his past glories ("Boom Boom," with guest Jimmie Vaughan), sets him up for a giddy jam with the late Telecaster master Albert Collins ("Boogie at Russian Hill"), and teams him with Charlie Musselwhite for the guitar-voice-harmonica duet "Thought I Heard"–a performance as sad and eerie as disembodied moans in a Delta graveyard. There's also Hooker's first recorded performance on National steel guitar, the solo "Hittin' the Bottle Again". This album gets right to the heart of Hooker's music and stays there. A blues-lover's delight.
John Lee Hooker developed a “talking blues” style that became his trademark. Though similar to the early Delta tradition, his metrically free approach and unique sound would make him a staple of the Detroit blues tradition. Often called the “King of the Boogie,” Hooker's driving, rhythmic approach to guitar playing has become an integral part of the blues. His thunderous electric guitar sounded raw, while his basic technique was riveting.
Released in 1991 on Pointblank, this audiophile treat finds the 'Hook in some very special company. Co-producers Roy Rogers, Ry Cooder and Carlos Santana (who all contribute musically on this title as well) persuaded the likes of Albert Collins, Robert Cray, John Hammond, Johnnie Johnson, Van Morrison, Keith Richards, Nick Lowe and Johnny Winter among others to join in and the result is one terrific record. This original analog recording is beautifully recorded and a highlight to the ump-teenth rejuvenation in the 'Hooks career.
The album features collaborations with Bonnie Raitt, Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Cray, Canned Heat, George Thorogood, Los Lobos and Carlos Santana, among others. The Healer peaked at number 62 on the Billboard 200 and "I'm in the Mood" won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Performance.
Winding through the literally hundreds of titles in John Lee Hooker's catalog is a daunting task for even the most seasoned and learned blues connoisseur. This is especially true when considering Hooker recorded under more than a dozen aliases for as many labels during the late '40s, '50s, and early '60s. I'm John Lee Hooker was first issued in 1959 during his tenure with Vee Jay and is "the Hook" in his element as well as prime. Although many of these titles were initially cut for Los Angeles-based Modern Records in the early '50s, the recordings heard here are said to best reflect Hooker's often-emulated straight-ahead primitive Detroit and Chicago blues styles. The sessions comprising the original 12-track album – as well as the four bonus tracks on the 1998 Charly CD reissue – are taken from six sessions spread over the course of four years (1955-1959). Hooker works both solo – accompanied only by his own percussive guitar and the solid backbeat of his foot rhythmically pulsating against plywood – as well as in several different small-combo settings.
In 1959, John Lee Hooker signed a one-off deal with the Riverside label to record an acoustic session of the country blues. It was a key change from his earlier recordings, most of which had featured Hooker on an electric guitar with his trademark reverb and stomping foot. Folk purists of the day were delighted with COUNTRY BLUES, believing Hooker had returned to his roots, leaving the "glitzy commercialism" of R&B behind. But some Hooker fans considered COUNTRY BLUES a "betrayal" of his true sound. The truth is probably somewhere in-between. Remember, John Lee Hooker is always John Lee Hooker, regardless of the format. If you like Hooker, or acoustic blues, buy this album. It is an intimate session featuring standards like "How Long", "Bottle Up and Go", as well as Hooker's first recorded take on "Tupelo", one of his all-time classics.
This quintessential release presents one of Hooker's most difficult to find albums: Burning Hell. Recorded in Detroit in April 1959, the Riverside label only originally issued the LP in England. A country-blues classic, John Lee Hooker only plays acoustic guitar throughout the album, and sings straight to the bone with his soul drenched vocal delivery. Highlights include songs associated with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Big Bill Broonzy, as well as a number of Hooker's own finest compositions. In addition to the original masterpiece, this remastered CD also contains 8 bonus tracks, including a number of solo recordings taped in different locations between 1952 and 1961.